Skinny Jim and the Number 9 Blacktops
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Skinny Jim and the Number 9 Blacktops

Band Rock Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Carbondale Nightlife"

Misc. articles - Carbondale, Illinois

"The Pulse (Daily Eyptian)"

Numerous articles. Full page feature. - Carbondale, Illinois


Numerous articles. - Carbondale, Illinois (Southern Illinoisian)

"The Independent"

Feature - Herrin/Carterville, Illinois

"DOA Online Music Review 5/29/07"

Skinny Jim and the Number 9 Blacktops are one of those bands I should see live; their myspace profile - featuring a topless Skinny Jim in all his tattooed glory - reminds me of the Sideruner's own minimalist arrangement. Like the Siderunners, the Blacktops combine old Americana styles with a 70's and 80's punk rock attitude. With touches of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and pyschobilly pioneers the Meteors, the Blacktops have a full sound with a three-piece's crispness. "Twenty Flight Rock" and "Hot Rod Girl" explore different avenues of the 50's pop circuit, "Matchbox" reveals the Blacktop's grittier tone with dirty country vocals and teethy distorted guitar licks.

"Matchbox" aside, the Blacktops keep things concise, just missing the two minute mark on "Twenty Flight Rock" and barely crossing the line with "Hot Rod Girl". The former owes more to Buddy Holly and the 1950's rockabilly revolution than Chuck Berry's pop-rock style. With its "Revon"-style glimmer, "Twenty Flight Rock" lays off the rocking guitar riffs - opting for an abbreviated solo towards the end - in favor of Skinny Jim's seemingly amused voice - what's so funny? -. Due to low production values it's hard to decipher Skinny Jim's lyrics, but the song isn't really about balladry; "Twenty Flight Rock"'s cohesive sound seems to be the goal and it's certainly achieved. The verses three chorded "duhn duhn duhn"'s turn into surfy twice picked eighth notes, which add melody to Skinny Jim's vocal beat counting.

Staying the pop course, "Hot Rod Girl"'s call response chorus meshes well with the palm muted guitar and up-tempo rhythm. In addition to one and...three and guitar strums, the trio adds a female guest vocalist lending a refreshingly country tone to the otherwise single-genre piece. Also, the solo makes great use of Skinny Jim's guitar noodling, causing whatever effect he uses to rise to the surface; it's probably vibrato, reverb or some combination of the two.

My favorite Blacktop's song has to be "Matchbox". With a Meteors' style verse-solo-verse-solo format, the tune's bare drum and bass style makes the biting but clear distortion tear right through the foundation, eating away at the skull and bone's exterior. Skinny Jim throws away the poppy 50's boy voice in favor of a manly country western growl. The first chorus/solo pays homage to Chuck Berry with plenty of B-E string bridges and piano-like diatribes ending just in time to welcome back the big bass' boogie. In a moment of brilliance the Blacktop's decided to include a chunky drum solo - which at first sounds like the bass' rhythmic slap - instead of a second guitar for the final "chorus".

Like I said in the beginning, I've got a feeling Skinny Jim and the Blacktops need to be seen in person, mainly because, despite their claims of a punk influence, their music is damn well influenced by the rockabilly of the 1950's, without so much as a hint of the vicious 70's 80's rock. Maybe this translates into a hard rocking show belying the poppy garnish of a CD recording ala the Siderunners. For lovers of raw rock n' roll and country western debauchery, I recommend Skinny Jim and the Blacktops for a quick evening of raucous fun and excitement; to everyone else, sip your fine chardonnay and try not to pet your cats too hard while you waste your night glorifying wonderfully crappy Japanese B-Movies and jacking off to men in well tailored pterodactyl suits; good night!

-Tony Magnum



2007 - "Horsepower, Horsepower!" (Produced by "Southern Culture on the Skids" own Rick Miller!)
2006 - "Live at Hangar 9" (Carbondale, Illinois' most popular music venue!)
2005 - "Hickory-Smoked Rockabilly" (A fresh take on some rockabilly classics!)



Playing what has been dubbed "Hot-Rod Rockabilly," this Illinois trio takes the traditional rockabilly sound and soups it up with a high-octane edge. The Blacktops play more towards the raw rock influences of bands like The Black Crowes, throw in a little throttle, and combine the groove of Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran to create danceable music without the thinness of pure rockabilly. "Its basically rock-n-roll, with a punk feel to it," says guitarist/vocalist Jim Rotramel. Crediting Dallas Alice's frontman Sean Hopkins with the nickname "Skinny" (its from an Eddie Cochran song), the Number 9 Blacktops take their name from an old country road outside of Hill and Rotramel's hometown of West Frankfort, Illinois. "We'd drag race CR 250s until our knuckles bled," says Rotramel. Rotramel released the freshman album "Hickory-Smoked Rockabilly" three years ago, working with Louisville, Kentucky's Sean Hopkins and Nashville, Tennessee's Ross Sermons. After tracking at Mike Lescilius' Misunderstudio in Murphysboro, Illinois, Rotramel relyed on the mastering skills of Dave Harris to add the finishing touches. "Studio B Mastering in Charlotte is without a doubt the best. Dave's mastered both my Blacktops albums, and my Accelerators stuff flawlessly," proclaims Rotramel. In early 2006, the Blacktops moved from the studio to the live venues. Chicago native Nate Hopman (former frontman of national touring punk band The Rushmores) took over on drums, and America's favorite barber Randy "The Bulldog" Hill stepped up to add slap. In September, 2007, the Blacktops finished up their second album, "Horsepower, Horsepower," produced by Rick Miller of the Yep Roc trashabilly band "Southern Culture on the Skids." The Blacktops tracked at Miller's Kudzu Ranch, and went with Dave Harris at Studio B for the polish. The boys are playing non-stop in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky to support the new release. "It never gets old," says Rotramel, regarding playing shows. "We are humbled anytime someone comes out to see us. The support for local music never dies, we're all in this together." When he's not fronting the Blacktops, Rotramel can be found at Carbondale, Illinois' Tuff Luck Tattoos (618-549-2034), poking holes in kids for cash. Hill runs the traditional Chop Shop Barber Shop in Marion, Illinois. Stop in and hit him up for a free trim! Make sure and check out Darrell Mankin at Darrell snapped all the black and white photos in our pics section, and is America's finest old-school photographer, hands down. For booking, merch, or just to check out more of The Number 9 Blacktops, go to, or